Signs of Percocet Abuse and Addiction

Last Updated: October 26, 2022

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Percocet is an effective pain medication when taken as prescribed, but it can also have serious side effects.

Article Overview

  • Percocet can be misused by people with or without a prescription
  • Rates of misuse and addiction to opioids like Percocet have increased in the U.S.
  • Short- and long-term side effects of Percocet misuse can include mood changes, drowsiness, organ failure or death
  • There are many treatments available to support recovery from Percocet addiction

Percocet is a pain medication in the opioid family that is often abused. Taking Percocet for pain can effectively manage symptoms, but non-prescribed or recreational use can come with serious risks.

Using Percocet has many side effects that must be considered because there is a risk of developing a Percocet addiction. Addiction can happen whether Percocet is prescribed or used recreationally. Learning the risks and side effects of taking Percocet can encourage its safe use or help you find treatment if needed.

What Does Percocet Do?

The active ingredients of Percocet, oxycodone and acetaminophen are pain relievers. Although doctors aren’t completely sure how they work, they know that oxycodone works on mu opioid receptors of the central nervous system.

As an opioid, Percocet triggers the brain’s reward circuit, leading to a feel-good state after taking the medication. Unfortunately, this can quickly lead to cravings and dependence on the drug, paving the way for an addiction to develop.

How Is Percocet Abused?

Percocet is often misused for its relaxing or pain-relieving effects, and many people use it to get high. Percocet misuse can occur when the drug is taken without a prescription, more frequently or in higher doses than recommended.

People who misuse Percocet might take it in tablet form or crush or dissolve a tablet to snort, smoke or inject. People might take Percocet to increase the high of other drugs or avoid withdrawal symptoms if they are dependent on a substance.

Signs of Percocet Abuse and Addiction

When someone struggles with Percocet, signs of addiction often become evident to friends, family and colleagues. These symptoms of Percocet misuse can include:

  • Taking more Percocet or taking it longer than intended
  • Previous unsuccessful efforts to cut down or stop Percocet
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using or recovering from Percocet
  • Cravings for Percocet
  • Failure to fulfill obligations at work, school or home due to Percocet use
  • Continuing to use Percocet despite interpersonal problems from doing so
  • Giving up on other activities because of Percocet
  • Using Percocet even when it is physically dangerous to do so
  • Continuing Percocet even though you know doing so is harmful to you
  • Needing increasing Percocet doses to achieve the same results as before
  • Withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop Percocet

Percocet Side Effects

Percocet is effective in treating pain when taken as prescribed, but it can also have several side effects. When someone starts taking Percocet, they might notice changes in how they feel as their body adjusts to the new drug. This shift can include both physical and behavioral side effects.

  • Physical Side Effects
    • Nausea
    • Constipation
    • Headaches
    • Dizziness
  • Behavioral Side Effects
    • Mood swings
    • Confusion
    • Sleep disturbances

Some of these side effects may subside as the body adjusts to Percocet and tolerance develops.

Long-term Effects of Percocet Use 

The chances of long-term Percocet side effects are increased if the drug is misused. Long-term Percocet addiction is linked with serious organ damage and an increased risk of overdose and death.

  • Physical Side Effects:
    • Chronic constipation
    • Breathing problems when you sleep
    • Cardiovascular disease
    • Fractures
    • Falls
    • Increased pain sensitivity
    • Sexual dysfunction
    • Infertility
    • Immunosuppression
    • Addiction
  • Behavioral Side Effects:
    • Drug-seeking behavior 
    • Loss of function related to drug use
    • Low mood
  • Social Side Effects:
    • Legal problems
    • Estrangement from family and friends
    • Unemployment
    • Homelessness

These long-term side effects can impact health and a person’s ability to live normally, even after recovery from addiction.

Percocet Overdose Symptoms

The signs of Percocet overdose are serious and medical help should be contacted immediately. If someone has taken too much Percocet, they might appear lethargic or “out of it” and may or may not be responsive. Some Percocet overdose signs include:

  • Slowed breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Cardiac arrest

The risks of Percocet overdose are serious and can cause death. Anyone suspected of overdosing on Percocet will require urgent medical attention. The overdose risk can also increase if you use other drugs or take Percocet with alcohol.

If you suspect someone is overdosing on Percocet, administer naloxone (Narcan) immediately and call 911. An opioid overdose can quickly become fatal.

How To Address Percocet Addiction

Getting off Percocet can be lengthy and challenging for those struggling with addiction. However, many Percocet addiction treatment options are available that can facilitate recovery.

Treatment for Percocet addiction will often start with detoxing, which is the process of Percocet entirely leaving the system. The recovery process can also include several different individual or group therapy types. Therapy focuses on building skills and strategies that help people cope with addiction and recovery.

Contact The Recovery Village Columbus to speak with a representative about how professional addiction treatment can help you address your Percocet addiction alongside any co-occurring mental health disorders. You deserve a healthier future; call today.

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